If you saved your money and bought a house in the suburbs, your investment and lifestyle are under attack. President Joe Biden is pushing to end single-family zoning. The biggest item in Biden’s infrastructure bill, now being negotiated with Congress, is $213 billion he claims will to increase affordable housing. Biden wants to put the federal government in charge of zoning and distribute apartment buildings throughout single-family home neighborhoods.
That $213 billion is nearly twice the spending on roads and bridges. It will change towns everywhere and torpedo the American dream of a house with a patch of lawn.
Biden’s plan should be called “hypocrisy housing.” Its backers are hypocrites. Biden himself owns a four-acre lakefront home in upscale Greenville, Delaware, where there is absolutely no public housing, affordable housing or rentals that accept housing vouchers. And don’t expect any to be built next door to the Bidens.
Biden has always had a passion for stately homes and swanky addresses, even buying a 10,000 square foot mansion that once belonged to the DuPont family. Not exactly the image of “Middle-Class Joe.”
Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband own a $5 million gated home on a street of expensive single-family homes in Brentwood, California. That reeks of privilege.
President Barack Obama launched his Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing program in 2015 to ensure that every neighborhood includes housing for low-income buyers and renters and public transportation.
Yet, for their own family, the Obamas bought an $11.75 million Martha’s Vineyard mansion on 29 waterfront acres. Martha’s Vineyard is critically short of affordable housing, according to a public report, but that didn’t stop them.
These politicians love single-family zoning and exclusivity for themselves, but not for the rest of us. The poster person for this hypocrisy is avowed Marxist Patrisse Khan-Cullors, the Black Lives Matter activist who purchased a home in exclusive Topanga Canyon, part of Los Angeles.
The U.S. has a housing shortage. But many municipalities are already dealing with it. They don’t need Washington, D.C., strong-arming local decision-makers.
That’s what Biden’s plan does. The bill creates a gigantic pot of taxpayer funds to hand out to towns that surrender self-rule.
That’s a mistake. Local control is vital. Towns can take into account the availability of public transportation, school capacity and proximity to employment. Uncle Sam has no clue.
Advocates for federal control argue that if anyone can afford a neighborhood, everyone should be able to afford it. That means locating apartment clusters even way out on country roads. Bus routes and bus shelters would have to be built. Roads have to be widened to accommodate traffic, and sewers and water lines are needed. Say goodbye to country living.
Advocates for abolishing zoning mock suburbanites for worrying about home values. But for most people, their home is their biggest investment, and they waited years to afford it.
Local control allows them to be part of the solution. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is pushing to end single-family zoning, while her opponents warn that increasing density will strain schools and transportation and require cutting down the “tree canopy” over the city’s older neighborhoods. Atlantans will decide.
Other communities are building in-town housing for young working people and seniors while allowing homeowners to build accessory apartments for extended family or renters.
Biden’s proposals to make housing affordable are laughable. He calls for “putting union-building trade workers to work” to “save families money.” Right, as if mandating union-only labor has ever been a money saver.
Instead, he should remove the tariff on lumber. Costs are up 300% in a little over a year.
Biden is also proposing a first-time homebuyer’s tax credit of up to $15,000 that buyers can receive at time of purchase, rather than when they file taxes. Paying people to buy homes will push up housing prices. The same way federal college aid and loans have pushed up tuitions.
Biden’s plan won’t expand the American dream. It’s what will kill it.
PHOTO: We Need Affordable Housing protest. Photo by Brooke Anderson. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and author of "The Next Pandemic," available at Amazon.com. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.